While we hope that the “turbulence” of the pandemic shall witness a downtrend, the unquestionable need of the hour is “transformation” in order to stay ahead of the curve. Whether it is progressing to a digital enterprise, or a shift to skills from experience, or the exponential focus on employee experience or development of new generation tools; leaders need to leverage these trends, enable employees to be creators rather than just consumers of this shift and coalesce as integrative partners in their organization’s journey. In my view, a few Workplace trends emerge that will need attention:
Agility and Customer-Centricity for Business Transformation
This simply means re-envisioning the absolute organization as a convolution or integrated circuits of high-performing teams, each pursuing unclouded, end-to-end business-oriented outcomes, and owning the skills needed to deliver. A McKinsey Global Survey reveals that highly successful agile transformations typically delivered around 30% gains in efficiency, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance. For HR, it clearly indicates that while the focus on delivery should always be there, but in ways that are responsive to the ongoing changes in the ecosystem. For e.g. in a bank, cross-functional collaboration was promoted where tech employees joined cross-functional product development teams to make the bank more customer-focused. A customer service company experimented with a new continual feedback process, using a customized app with which employees, peers, and managers could exchange comments in real-time rather than dwelling on the traditional year-end appraisal.
The Skyscrapers of Empathy and Autonomy
At the crux of all business transformation, there are people and it is imperative for organizations to keep in mind the experience they offer to employees. Leaders will need to be empathetic, allow autonomy, provide flexibility, and have exceptional listening skills coupled with resilience. It is time to transgress beyond listening – leaders will need to explicitly metamorphose insights into action with the focus of improving business outcomes and employee experience. A multinational technology corporation holds global Innovation Jams that help leaders gather the voices of employees and make sense of it. Another similar company sends surveys to more than 2,500 employees every day to capture feedback. In the midst of an employee-driven market, the future of the employee’s voice is so much more than an annual engagement survey.
Integration versus Fragmentation by Adopting Augmented Analytics
One of the trends increasingly expected among teams will be to augment abilities with AI technology. This clearly means using AI primarily to automate repetitive components of their regular jobs which allows them to focus on areas that require increased human touch, be it creativity, innovation, strategy, or emotional intelligence. While technology hasn’t left any domain unconsumed, what is pivotal is that it should be used in different forms to drive effective results coupled with personalized experience. A steel and energy company has adopted this approach wherein recruits pass through an augmented analytic software which in turn helps to understand their skills, culture and expectations thus making the hiring process more time and cost-effective.
Culture of New Work Paradigm – Making Differences Matter
As leaders, the objective should be creation of an environment where everyone is more receptive and willing to go beyond differences in a hybrid work model. Be it enhanced focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or Creating a tech-enabled Collaborative Culture or Employee Well-Being taking a centre stage or Real-time goal setting and listening, every aspect of the new paradigm should serve the need for constructive and genuine connection, while synchronously advancing business goals.
Magic Potion of Upskilling and Reskilling
The process of obtaining and strengthening the right skills will definitely change the game. Be it mastering new technologies, identifying new skills, developing remote work skills, implementing skill-based movement, or moving to “pay for skills” structures, any effort in this direction is going to boost productivity and engagement. HR needs to fine-tune the learning strategy and implement bite-sized learning, provide access to on-demand curated content and enable leaders and teams with skill sets to remain agile and efficient despite disruptions.
While the above trends are not all-encompassing and there are many more that will evolve, personally I feel that there is no substitute for human connection. As technology is swiftly augmenting certain tasks and human muscle to some extent, these transformations will be ineffective if we don’t focus on affinity, humanness, collaboration, continuous communication, and nurturing relationships. Today and every day, whether remote or after return to workplace, or new age of hybrid working, one trend which will never change is learning to embrace and revitalize those human connections, else we will risk falling behind to keep pace in the race to success.